For only the fourth time in history, the reigning U.S. Open men’s singles champion will not defend his title.
Rafael Nadal, who won the tournament last year, will miss the event for the second time in three years. The 14-time Grand Slam champion announced Monday that he’d be sidelined because of a wrist injury he suffered while training in July.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nadal Said He Had no Choice but to ‘Accept the Situation’
Nadal announced Monday on his Facebook page that he would miss the tournament:
I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament on which I’ve played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.
2. Nadal Injured His Wrist While Training Last Month
Nadal injured his right wrist July 29 while training on the Spanish island of Mallocra. He announced the following day on Facebook that he would miss the U.S. Open tuneup tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati, but said at the time that he expected to be back on time for the Open.
Nadal said at the time:
Disappointed for not being able to compete in Toronto and Cincinnati due to a wrist injury on my right hand. Sad also for the fans in North America who always support me. I expect to be well for the US Open. Thanks all for your support.
3. Nadal Had to Wear a Cast on His Wrist for 2-3 Weeks
Benito Perez-Barbadillo, Nadal’s manager, announced August 2 that doctors had told Nadal he needed to wear a cast on the injured wrist for two to three weeks.
According to ESPN, doctors were expected to keep tabs on the injury and conduct MRI exams as Nadal progressed.
4. Nadal Plays Left-Handed but Has a 2-Handed Backhand
The injury his to Nadal’s right wrist. The Spaniard plays left-handed, but plays with a two-handed backhand, making right hand and arm injuries problematic.
Nadal’s right hand is particularly important to his backhand because of the Semi-Western grip he employs.
Optimumtennis.com describes his backhand and grip as follows:
The tennis grip he employs on his right hand (non-racket hand) is the Semi-Western grip. The Semi-Western grip allows Rafael Nadal’s backhand to produce more topspin than the Eastern forehand grip. This makes him different from other left handed-players because most of them use the Eastern forehand grip on their non dominant. In the two-handed stroke, it is the non dominant (right hand for left- handed player like Nadal but left hand for right-handed players.) that is responsible for the power that is produced during the shot.
5. Nadal Hasn’t Played Since Losing in the 4th Round at Wimbledon
Nadal hasn’t played since being upset by 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon on July 1. The loss was a rare low point in what had been an impressive 2014 that included Nadal’s record ninth French Open title. The win at Roland Garros tied him with Pete Sampras for second all time with 14 majors, three behind rival Roger Federer, who has 17.
Federer, who lost an epic five-set Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic, will join Djokovic as a favorite at Flushing Meadows with Nadal out of the field.